The unexpected death of Mayor Mike Dachisen sparks a messy political battle in Rockawy Township.
The Rockaway Township Council is holding a highly unusual, 10:30 p.m. meeting Friday to pick a new mayor and possibly make other changes, one month after the death of Mayor Mike Dachisen.
Dachisen’s unexpected death Aug. 15 at age 58 exacerbated political divisions in Rockaway Township. Within days, his widow and other supporters organized a petition drive aimed at recalling Acting Mayor Jeremy Jedynak, the council’s president.
The council had planned to meet Thursday night and, in anticipation of a large crowd, reportedly received permission from Christ Church to use its 1,000-seat sanctuary instead of the much smaller room in the municipal building.
However, at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the church notified Jedynak that it was withdrawing the invitation, according to an 11-paragraph email to residents from Councilwoman Patty Abrahamsen and provided to NJ Advance Media on Friday.
Abrahamsen, the acting council president, blamed the cancellation on calls and emails to the church from “disrupters” opposed to the council majority. Five of its nine members, including Jedynak and Abrahamsen, had sparred with Dachisen on a wide range of issues.
A phone call to Christ Church was not immediately returned.
As for rescheduling the meeting for 10:30 p.m. Friday, Ambramsen said in her message, without elaborating, that Friday is the “last opportunity” to choose an interim mayor serving through Dec. 31.
She also cited the Open Public Meeting Law, which requires a 48-hour notice before a public meeting can be held. The meeting will begin about 50 hours after the church notified the council of the withdrawn invitation, according to Ambransen.
Because Dachisen was a Republican, the local Republican committee submitted three candidates — former Councilman Paul Minenna, Councilman Michael Puzio and Adam Salberg — for interim mayor.
Voters will pick a mayor Nov. 6 to fill the remainder of Dachisen’s term, which runs through Dec. 2019.
Jedynak said following Dachisen’s death that he would not run for mayor.
In addition to picking a new mayor, the council will consider other changes Friday — most notably, a proposal to replace the municipal attorney with John Inglesino, a former Rockaway Township mayor and Morris County freeholder.
Rockaway Township is home to approximately 24,000 residents.
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Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News